Knight of Cups

Knight of Cups Information

Knight of Cups is a 2015 American experimental film written and directed by Terrence Malick and produced by Nicolas Gonda and Sarah Green. It stars Christian Bale, Cate Blanchett, Natalie Portman, Antonio Banderas, Brian Dennehy, Freida Pinto, Imogen Poots, Isabel Lucas, Teresa Palmer and Wes Bentley. The film premiered in the main competition section at the 65th Berlin International Film Festival on February 8, 2015. The film was released on March 4, 2016, in the United States by Broad Green Pictures.

The story in Knight of Cups is loosely inspired by and at times quotes directly from both the 1678 Christian allegory The Pilgrim's Progress, and the passage Hymn of the Pearl from the Acts of Thomas.

The title of the film refers to the tarot card, the Knight of Cups.


A screenwriter living in Los Angeles tries to make sense of the strange events occurring around him. While he's successful in his career, his life feels empty. Haunted by the death of one brother and the dire circumstances of the other, he finds temporary solace in the Hollywood excess that defines his existence. Women provide a distraction to the daily pain he must endure, and every encounter that comes his way brings him closer to finding his place in the world.

The film is divided into eight chapters, plus a prologue, each loosely based around the central character Rick's relationship with somebody in his life. Every chapter is named after a tarot card (as is the title of the film), except for the final chapter Freedom.

I. The Moon - Della (Imogen Poots), a rebellious young woman.

II. The Hanged Man - His brother Barry (Wes Bentley) and father Joseph (Brian Dennehy).

III. The Hermit - Tonio (Antonio Banderas), an amoral playboy.

IV. Judgement - His physician ex-wife Nancy (Cate Blanchett).

V. The Tower - Helen (Freida Pinto), a serene model.

VI. The High Priestess - Karen (Teresa Palmer), a spirited, playful stripper.

VII. Death - Elizabeth (Natalie Portman), a woman he wronged in the past.

VIII. Freedom - Isabel (Isabel Lucas), an innocent who helps him see a way forward.




In November 2011, it was announced Cate Blanchett, Christian Bale and Isabel Lucas had been cast in the film, with Terrence Malick directing the film. It was also announced the film would be-shot-back-to-back with Weightless, with production beginning in 2012.


Production on the film began in June 2012, and lasted nine weeks. Throughout filming Isabel Lucas, Wes Bentley, Christian Bale, and Teresa Palmer were spotted filming. Although, a script was written Bale received no pages from it, while other cast members such as Wes Bentley, and Joel Kinnamon did. During production, Malick would use a process called "Torpedoing", where a character from the cast is thrown into a scene, while the other actors have no idea the character would be in the scene.


The film spent two years in post-production. Post-production on the film consisted of a small group of editors in the beginning and widened throughout.


In May 2013, the first image from the film was released featuring Portman and Bale. The film premiered in the main competition section at the 65th Berlin International Film Festival on February 8, 2015. Shortly after, Broad Green Pictures acquired distribution rights to the film. The film had its American premiere at the Santa Barbara Film Festival on February 7, 2016. The film was released in the United States on March 4, 2016. In the United Kingdom, the film will be released on May 6, 2016.


Knight of Cups has received mixed reviews from critics. On review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes, the film has a 51% approval rating based on 41 reviews, with an average rating of 5.6 out of 10. On Metacritic, the film has a weighted average score of 54 out of 100 based on 22 reviews, indicating "mixed or average reviews". Justin Chang of Variety called the film "flawed but fascinating" and a "feverish plunge into the toxic cloud of decadence" as Malick offers a "corrosive critique of Hollywood hedonism". Todd McCarthy of The Hollywood Reporter said that the "resolutely poetic and impressionist" film "conveys most bracingly [the] fleeting nature of human exchange", but the end result "is a certain tedium and repetitiveness along with the rhythmic niceties and imaginative riffs... this one mostly operates on a more dramatically mundane, private and even narcissistic level [than The Tree of Life]". Cate Blanchett's performance in the film was listed as one of the 15 best performances in a Terrence Malick film. Matt Zoller Seitz of highly praised the film, giving it four out of four stars, acknowledging how the film would be "impenetrable and intolerable" for audiences, but then emphasizing how Malick is very unique in terms of his disregard for film conventions, stating that "Knight of Cups is not a young man's movie. It's an old man's movie. A philosophically engaged, beatific, starchild-as-old-man's movie."

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